Who we are
Castle Douglas in December 2010 as seen from Carlingwark Loch. The ANDES office and library is just behind the old church (which is now the Fullarton Theatre).
ANDES is a genuinely small business run from Castle Douglas in Galloway (southwest Scotland). The business is owned and operated by John Biggar, an active climber, skier and snowboarder. John is a fully qualified Mountaineering Instructor (WMCI) belonging to the AMI and has completed the Alpine Level 1 instructor course with BASI. He is the author of the only comprehensive climbing guidebook to the Andes. This book was first published in 1996, with the fifth English edition published in February 2020. The first Spanish and second French editions were published in 2007 and 2009, a Polish edition came out in February 2012, and the E-book version of the 4th English edition was published in November 2015. In 2019 a Czech language edition was also published.
John Biggar, WMCI -- Pictured above climbing at City of Rocks, Idaho in July 2014
I have been operating specialist treks and climbing expeditions to South America for twenty-three years and have climbed over 300 of the 5000m and 6000m peaks in the Andes. In that time I have also personally been to every famous peak or trek and have done pretty much all of the sightseeing. I have completed a large number of research trips and led unusual itineraries to some interesting and undiscovered places. Expeditions run by myself under the ANDES brand have made first British ascents of three of the ten highest Andean peaks (Bonete, Pissis and Cazadero) and first ever ascents of over ten 6000m+ Andean peaks. It is not really boasting to say that I know the Andes, as a whole, better than anyone else in the world. I am probably the only person alive to have climbed the high points of all seven Andean countries. I can offer impartial advice, whether you are going trekking, climbing, skiing or just sightseeing. In my spare time in Scotland I rock and ice-climb, ski-mountaineer and snowboard.
Claire Evans helps out in the office several times a week, when she has time off from chasing round the house after two kids. Claire was originally from North Wales.
Linda Biggar climbing in Rio de Janeiro. Linda, a qualified mountaineering instructor (MCI and Winter ML) works on some of our expeditions.
ANDES courses and expeditions are almost all lead by myself, John Biggar. I speak good, almost fluent, Spanish and have huge experience of travel in the mountains of South America. A few other mountaineering expeditions are led (or co-led) by competent and experienced mountaineers. They are usually either qualified as members of the British Mountain Guides (BMG), or the Peruvian or Argentine Mountain Guides Association (IGMP or AAGM), both of which are member organisation of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) or belong to the British qualified Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI). Logistics only arrangements, whether guided or un-guided are usually made through my network of regular contacts and mountain guides out in South America.
Our office is located in the centre of Castle Douglas, a quiet wee town in Galloway, in the wet and windy south west corner of Scotland. Personal callers are very welcome, although it is much better to phone (01556 503929) or email first to be sure myself or Claire can be around to meet you.
To reach Castle Douglas (CD) follow either the M6 north from England turning onto the A75 towards Dumfries, or follow the M74 south from Central Scotland, turning onto the A701 at Beattock to reach Dumfries.
From Dumfries go around the town bypass and follow the A75 west, signposted "Stranraer", for 16 miles to reach Castle Douglas. Turn left off the A75 at the roundabout as you reach the town. Once in the 30mph zone go straight across at the mini-roundabout and past Tesco to reach a really big roundabout with big trees on it. Take the second exit here, signposted Auchencairn. This is Queen Street. About half way down Queen Street turn left opposite the Kings Arms Hotel (currently painted white with black window surrounds). You are now in St. Andrew Street. We're just on the left side of this street, just 10m from the junction, at number 37a.
Parking is easy and free.
We are 2 hours drive from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, 3 hours from Manchester, 4-5 from Birmingham and Sheffield and a whopping 10 hours if you are coming all the way from Cornwall.! If calling in on your way north (or south) it's only about 1½ hours extra driving time in total to get to and from CD from the M6-M74 motorway corridor.
Our full legal business postal address is John Biggar, ANDES, 37a St. Andrew Street, Castle Douglas, DG7 1EN, Scotland. Full phone and email contact details are here